Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash (Sony Classics, 10.10) was the first 2014 movie I went apeshit for. I reviewed it out of Sundance almost exactly nine months ago…and then the months flew by and I began to think of it as a very strong Spirit Awards contender. Then it got another jolt out of Toronto/New York, and then it finally opened nine days ago. And then it began to connect in certain flotational ways. And then the clincher: Jett and his girlfriend saw it last night, and he reports that while she “liked” or “respected” but didn’t quite love Gone Girl and Birdman, she’s over the moon about Whiplash. That settles it. Whiplash, which has earned about $416K in 21 theatres so far, is a Best Picture contender because it fills not one but two Oscar Bait Bingo squares — it’s the Best Picture contender that GenY regards as its own (at least one BP nominee has to “belong” to the under-30s or they won’t feel invested in the Oscar telecast) and it’s the leading indie-level Best Picture nominee, which is a healthy thing for the Academy as nominating only big-name, medium-to-hefty-budget, mainstream-vibey films sends the wrong message. On top of which Whiplash is currently sitting in tenth place on the latest Gurus of Gold ranking — the admirers include Thelma Adams, Tim Gray, David Poland, Nathaniel R and Anne Thompson. I am including it in my Gold Derby Best Picture ranking as we speak. To repeat, Whiplash is no longer a Spirit Awards contender (although it can and will compete in that arena) — it’s a bona fide Best Picture contender.